Pastor’s Blog: Ministry Under the Cross

When we were baptized we were marked with the cross of Jesus. That shows his claim on us. At the same time it reminds us of our ministry—that we are to follow his way of selfless and generous serving and caring. No surprise, then, that the logo for our visioning appeal is crossshaped!

We want to, in the words on the logo, “Envision, Encourage, and Embrace Our Future” as disciples of Jesus, people of God, guided by the Holy Spirit.

“Envision” asks us to consider God’s will for what the future is to be. Jesus revealed the reign of God as he taught and healed. He is our example of self-givin service, in love for God and caring for other people, especially those in need. By fulfilling God’s promise of a Savior, Jesus gives us confident hope that God’s will be done. Our vision inspires us on the journey into the future.

“Encourage” literally means “give courage”. Our congregation is named after Barnabas, whose name means “encourager”; but the greatest encouragement comes from our faith in God, through Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit. There are so many changes in life and in our world, yet we have encouragement as we look to the future.

“Embrace” invites us to respond, to participate in God’s future for us with joy and excitement. The visioning appeal offers particular direction in our immediate future as a congregation, for important ministries among us. The top icon (“mini logo”) represents mission outreach. Ten percent of the amount raised will be given to the Northern Illinois Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for ministries in our state, nation, and world.

The three icons that form the crosspiece represent the three areas of ministry emphasis from the visioning process: youth (defined as birth through Sr. High), social ministries (defined as fellowship events to build relationships within the congregation and in the community), and service (locally and globally). Forty percent of the amount received will be used for new ministries to strengthen these areas. The bottom icon represents the remaining 50 percent portion of the total raised that will be used for building principal reduction.

This part is foundational for our future in at least two ways. First, paying the principal in advance eliminates the interest that would otherwise be owed on that amount, leading to significant saving. Second, a smaller loan need in the future will free up that money for use in other ministries. As the special gifts for the appeal are received, the 10% for mission support and 50% for building principal (top and bottom icons) will be paid out monthly. The funding for the visioning emphases will be expended as goals and objectives are planned for those three areas.

For youth, objectives include providing leadership, having events that encourage family participation with youth, and developing a Sunday School curriculum that is user-friendly for teacher and engaging for the children and youth. The first vent, a family movie night, will be Friday, November 8th. Planned by our Sr. High youth, it’s an opportunity for people of all ages to enjoy an evening together.

The family movie night shows how goals can overlap and support each other. It is in line with the social ministry goal to build relationships within the congregation and community— particularly the first objective to have new events that appeal to all ages. Other objectives are to have new events to which the local community is invited, and to add a special event on the Sunday the preschool children sing at worship. Initial work on this last event has begun as the preschool board is interested in teaming with planners from the congregation to do this in April, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of St. Barnabas and the 20th anniversary of the preschool.

The third goal, service, is defined as improving our mission outreach in the local community and the world. Objectives are to identify one new service need in the local community each year, to develop expanded leadership and structure for service projects, and expand international service and support.

Our Council is monitoring these areas monthly. Our teams are working on them. The main teams involved are Youth: the Youth and the Sunday School Administrator teams. Social ministry: the Fellowship and Witness teams. Service: the Caring team. Other groups such as the 50th anniversary planners, the Property and the Worship and Music teams will also be involved with specific events. Additional people are becoming involved as the plans develop. Prayerfully consider where you would like to be involved, and join in!

Thanks to all for your interest and support! Please continue to pray for God’s guidance in these efforts. And, consider how you can contribute ideas, time, offerings, prayers, and talents toward the success of the ministries made possible by the appeal!

– Pastor John


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